Read more about our France adventures here: french voyage day 1 french voyage day 2french voyage day 3seine viewfrench voyage day 4french voyage day 5french voyage day 6sunsetfrench voyage day 7french voyage day 8french voyage day 9french voyage day 10

I think my art teacher just invented the cutest art project ever! She takes card stock that the students first do texture painting on. Then she cuts them up into smaller pieces and gives them to the students to create monsters by either cutting or ripping the paper. I’ve never seen monsters as cute as the ones my students made. They are the most creative students ever! I just love them!

A monsters-are-us photo adventure:

Hi all,

A couple weekends ago, I was finally able to make it to the Eastern State Penitentiary, a tourist attraction I had been meaning to check out since I moved here last August. The Eastern State Penitentiary, now a National Historic Landmark, was a functioning prison from 1829 to 1971. Eastern State held some of America’s most notorious criminals, including gangster Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton.

At the time of its opening, Eastern State was revolutionary in its approach; as it was designed to create genuine regret and penitence in every criminal’s heart, prisoners were kept strictly in single-occupancy cells and given only a Bible and honest work (shoemaking, weaving, etc.), supposedly leading them to genuine repentance. This model was later altered, but much of the architecture still reflects the original founders’ intent. The outside of the prison looks like a castle, but inside, the quarters are much more cold and grim. Take a look!

This is what a typical cell would have looked like through the 1800s.

A set of cell blocks – this particular cell block had two stories. The prison is designed so that there is a central rotunda, out of which extend each of the cell blocks. This was so a central warden could have a view of everything happening in each of the cell blocks by simply standing in the middle rotunda.

Eastern State also had an extensive special exhibit going on right now on the state of Prisons Today. As you can see from this visualization, U.S. rates of incarceration have skyrocketed in the past couple decades, often for petty offenses, but this has had little effect on crime rates. The U.S. also imprisons far more people than any other country in the world, at a rate of 730 per 100,000 citizens. This pace of incarceration is unsustainable!

Eastern State is definitely worth checking out if you ever find yourself in the City of Brotherly Love!

After spending two amazing days in Nice, I headed west toward Castellane, a small almost medieval town in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. I really wanted to visit Castellane because I read that it was the easiest access to point to the Provence region where I really wanted to see lavender fields and more lavender fields. In the meantime, getting a chance to walk along the harrowing cliffs and winding roads of Gorges du Verdon was pretty amazing. Formed by the Verdon River’s torquoise-blue water, the gorge itself is considered one of the Europe’s most beautiful. It’s 25 kilometres long and up to 700 meters deep, which may not be as long or wide or deep as the Grand Canyon, but is impressive in its own right. Gorges du Verdon ends at Lac de Sainte-Croix where instead of just driving by for viewing pleasure, we actually took a dip and enjoyed this beautiful (though artificial) lake’s warm waters.

Read more about our France adventures here: french voyage day 1 french voyage day 2french voyage day 3seine viewfrench voyage day 4french voyage day 5french voyage day 6sunsetfrench voyage day 7french voyage day 8french voyage day 9

A French Castellane voyage photo adventure:

I seriously did not want to leave Nice, France. It had quickly become my absolute favorite French city (granted it was only the fourth I had ever visited in my life after Paris, Reims, and Lyon). Nevertheless, my second day in Nice, I started off by visiting the St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, one of the most impressive Russian Orthodox churches outside of Russia. This was a new experience for me because even though I’ve literally visited hundreds of churches in my life, never had I been in a Russian Orthodox one before. It seemed like an even more ritualistic Catholic church, is the only way I can put it. Women also had to coverup a fair amount just like when visiting an Islamic mosque. The rest of the day I spent fully taking in the Mediterranean Sea since I knew my time in this city was limited. I was sad to move on, but also excited to see what else Southern France had to offer!

Read more about our France adventures here: french voyage day 1 french voyage day 2french voyage day 3seine viewfrench voyage day 4french voyage day 5french voyage day 6sunsetfrench voyage day 7french voyage day 8

A French Nice voyage photo adventure: